Integrity of blood evidence defended at trial

Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three Investigators comb a Central Islip house where three bodies were found by crew responding to a fire. (Aug. 11, 2009) Photo Credit: James Carbone

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The day after a forensic scientist testified that bloodstains and other evidence from a triple homicide were sent to the police property bureau instead of to the Suffolk Crime Laboratory for testing, a Suffolk prosecutor Wednesday emphasized the lab's security and how it tracks evidence within the lab.

On Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla dismissed as a "non-issue" testimony during cross-examination by scientist Thomas Zaveski about where certain evidence from the crime scene was sent. Still, Biancavilla spent most of Wednesday questioning Zaveski about the lab's evidence-handling practices.

Zaveski has been testifying since Thursday in the trial of Hasan Vaughan and Thomas Singletary, both 36 and of Central Islip. They are charged with first-degree murder and arson in the deaths of Vaughan's girlfriend, Katrice Daniels, 31; her sister, Mykier Daniels, 28; and Mykier Daniels' friend, Louis Calixto Jr., 19, on Aug. 11, 2009.

The victims were tortured, stabbed, shot and strangled before the house was burned down.

Zaveski said Wednesday that some evidence has been stored at the police department's property bureau in Yaphank ever since he started working at the lab 23 years ago.

The Hauppauge lab takes up a floor in the county medical examiner's office, Zaveski said. He said the building requires a secure card to enter, and once in the building access to the lab itself is restricted. Even in the lab, only certain people have access to the most sensitive areas, he said.

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Zaveski also described the lab's computerized system of tracking how pieces of evidence move between storage vaults and various laboratories, or if they are sent out of the building.

But during cross-examination by Vaughan's attorney, William Keahon of Hauppauge, Zaveski said he had "no knowledge" of whether the police property bureau had the same security and gave the same care to handling scientific evidence.

On Tuesday, Keahon and Singletary's attorney, Daniel Russo, said some bloodstains in the case weren't tested, leaving open the possibility that someone other than the defendants left them.

Russo has questioned the lab's independence from the police department if it has the police store its sensitive evidence.

Russo will cross-examine Zaveski when the trial resumes Friday.

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